(1)The Corporation may from time to time independently of any other borrowing power borrow at interest on the security of the revenues of the Corporation and for the purposes mentioned in the first column of the following table the respective sums mentioned in the second column thereof and they shall pay off all money so borrowed within the respective periods (each of which
|Purpose.||Amount.||Period for Repayment.|
|(a)For and in connection with the purchase of lands and easements for and the construction of the waterworks authorised by this Act.||£588,000||Seventy years from the date or dates of borrowing.|
|(b) For paying the costs charges and expenses of this Act.||The sum requisite||Five years from the passing of this Act.|
I beg to move, in Sub-section (1, a) to leave out the word "seventy" ["seventy years"], and to insert instead thereof the word "sixty."
I feel bound to call the attention of the House to the fact that the Bill, as reported, embodies an infraction of the Standing Orders of the House. The Standing Order says:
In the case of any Bill promoted by or conferring powers on a municipal corporation or local board…the Committee on the Hill shall consider the Clauses of the Bill with reference to the following matters…
I omit those matters except paragraph (c), which says:
Whether the Bill assigns a period for repayment of any loan or for the redemption of any charge or debt, under the Bill execeding the term of sixty years, which term the Committee shall not in any case allow to be exceeded…
This Bill, as reported, allows a term of 70 years, which means an infraction of the Standing Order I have quoted. It may be that, under the special circumstances of the case, and owing to the solidity and permanence, or quasi permanence of the works, or to existing financial considerations, there may be very good reasons for extending the period to 70 years, but those reasons, I think, ought to be explained to the House. The Committee; have put in a Report which says that they have thought necessary to ignore the Standing Order, but they give no reasons for so doing. It may well be that those reasons are adequate, but the House must be the judge of that. Therefore, to enable the matter to be explained to the House, I beg to move the Amendment in my name.
As Chairman of the Committee which reported to this House, I ask leave to make a short statement in order that I may be able to lay before the House the reasons which actuated my Committee in the course it took. May I say, as a very old Chairman of that Private Bill Committee, that there is no man who is more actuated by a sense of responsibility to the Standing Orders of this House than I am. Firstly, may I say that the Report of my Committee is substantially the same as in similar circumstances since 1913 in relation to most of the Bills which have been on all fours with the one which came before me and my Committee. I I should like, in carrying out the view expressed by the Chairman of Ways and Means, to tell the House that this Bill authorises the acquisition of additional ground and the construction of two reservoirs for the supply of water for Halifax and the large areas surrounding the borough. The need for further supplies was undeniably proved to the Committee which very carefully considered the corporation proposals. The cost of the land and drainage area and the construction of the reservoirs and work connected therewith is estimated to amount, roughly, to £600,000. The reservoirs, of course, will be of a permanent character and will continue for practically all time; at any rate, for far beyond the period allowed, within which the money borrowed for their construction has to be repaid. The other works consist of lines, pipes, roads, etc., and they also will stand for the period of the loan, or beyond that period. The period in the Standing Order was a pre-War period. Conditions have changed, or arisen since the War, and they very materially affect the money market, and have justified the extension of the period of repayment to the extra 10 years. The existing generation will get some benefit at least from the new works, and future generations will get a longer use, and greater advantage over the present time, and they certainly should contribute to the expenditure, so that the burden may be distributed more evenly.
The House of Commons has on several occasions allowed the Standing Order to be waived Before the War this was the case with the Metropolitan Water Board Bill and the Manchester Ship Canal Bill, and during the War it was the Bristol Corporation Bill of 1918, for which 80 years was allowed. After the; War the Manchester Corporation Bill of 1919 was given 80 years. In the case of the Newport Corporation Act of 1920, SO years was allowed, and so in the ease of the Huddersfield Corporation (Acquisition of Land) Bill. The time, was extended to Bills brought in in 1921 for similar purposes. I venture to hope, after this statement, that the House, if it be so pleased, will dispense with the Standing Order and allow the period of 70 years which is asked for.
By leave of the House, I may perhaps speak again. After the statement of the right hon. Gentleman, if the House is not disposed to raise further objection, I do not feel called upon to do so. Therefore, in the first instance, I would ask leave to withdraw the Amendment I have moved, and after that is accomplished I will move the Adjournment of the Consideration in order to put in words which have been inserted in a similar case, to make it clear that this is an exceptional case, and is not to be used as a precedent.